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Distinctive piano goes up for sale at Sworders in Stansted

By Herts & Essex Observer  |  Posted: January 20, 2014

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ONE of five unusual pianos built more than 100 years ago is due to be auctioned for the first time since it was made, by Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers in Stansted Mountfitchet.

The instrument was designed by Charles Robert Ashbee, a leading figure in the arts and crafts movement at the start of the 20th century, for the Guild of Handicrafts and built in 1904 by celebrated piano manufacturer John Broadwood & Co, a company associated with some of the greatest pianos ever made.

Sworders believes this is the last of the five to be located; the four others are in museums or private collections.

This piano has been put up for sale with a guide price of £10,000-£15,000.

John Black, of Sworders, said: “This instrument is of museum quality and embodies everything about the arts and crafts era in its design. It has a beautiful mahogany case with a stained holly wood interior and is exceptionally rare.

“Instead of lifting a lid, there are two doors which open to either side. It’s a really fine piece of furniture and historically very exciting.”

The piano will be sold at Sworders’ decorative art and design sale, which is also auctioning 18 watercolour paintings by Essex artists Edward and Richard Bawden, including ‘Audley End Trees’, estimated for sale at £4,000-£6,000, and ‘Ives Farm, Great Bardfield’, which has a guide price of £3,000-£5,000.

The sale is offering 150 lots of modern Danish and English furniture.

Mr Black added: “This furniture is fashionable now but is still at very affordable prices. Twenty years ago some of it was simply thrown out by owners, but currently it’s very sought after and looks good in modern homes.”

Sworders’ decorative art and design sale is on Tuesday, January 28 at its auction rooms off Cambridge Road.

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